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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 413:137-145 (2010)  -  DOI:

Climate-driven synchrony in otolith growth-increment chronologies for three Bering Sea flatfish species

Mary Elizabeth Matta1,*, Bryan A. Black2, Thomas K. Wilderbuer1

1Resource Ecology and Fisheries Management Division, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service,  NOAA, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
2Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, 2030 SE Marine Science Dr., Newport, Oregon 97365, USA

ABSTRACT: Dendrochronology (tree-ring science) techniques were applied to otolith growth increments in 3 flatfish species collected from the eastern Bering Sea: northern rock sole Lepidopsetta polyxystra, yellowfin sole Limanda aspera, and Alaska plaice Pleuronectes quadrituberculatus. Within each species, otoliths were visually crossdated to ensure that the correct calendar year was assigned to each growth increment. Growth-increment widths were measured in each otolith, crossdating was statistically checked, and a single master chronology was generated for each species by averaging measurement time series after age-related growth declines had been removed. The 3 final chronologies spanned 18 to 20 yr and were significantly correlated with each other (p < 0.001), indicating a high level of growth synchrony among species. Final chronologies were compared to annual and monthly climate variables including water temperature, ice cover, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Of the climate indices examined, chronologies were most strongly related to summertime eastern Bering Sea bottom temperatures, with R2 values of 0.81, 0.61, and 0.34 for the yellowfin sole, Alaska plaice, and northern rock sole chronologies, respectively. Chronologies were significantly (p < 0.01) and positively related to monthly resolved records of sea surface temperature, though the seasons of the year exhibiting the strongest correlations varied among species. The present study suggests that flatfish growth is strongly influenced by the temperature of the eastern Bering Sea, underscoring the effect of climate on fisheries in a high-latitude ecosystem.

KEY WORDS: Sclerochronology · Dendrochronology · Growth · Environment · Otoliths · Flatfishes · Eastern Bering Sea

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Cite this article as: Matta EM, Black BA, Wilderbuer TK (2010) Climate-driven synchrony in otolith growth-increment chronologies for three Bering Sea flatfish species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 413:137-145.

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